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Self-advocacy and self-determination of autistic students: a review of the literature

William James Zuber (Department of Animation and Design, SAE Creative Media Institute, West End, Australia)
Colin Webber (SAE Creative Media Institute, West End, Australia)

Advances in Autism

ISSN: 2056-3868

Article publication date: 20 February 2019

Issue publication date: 16 April 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine current research on self-advocacy and self-determination of autistic students in order to provide an overview of the research and to critically evaluate researcher’s methods of inclusivity of autistic people. Additionally, this paper will critically analyse the discourse of the current research to assess the extent of deficit, stigma and pathology discourse.


Research will be selected from a list of criteria which is to seek research that is inclusive of autistic people. The research will be analysed using elements of critical discourse analysis, critical disability studies and critical autism studies. The critical autism studies approach used in this paper is emancipatory to promote autistic scholarship, autistic inclusivity and autistic led research methods.


The result of this paper is that by prioritising, and including autistic individuals in the studies about them provides valuable educational insights and often challenges assumptions, stigmas and stereotypes of autistic individuals.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of the paper may be limited by the selection of literature reviewed and generalizability, therefore, researchers are encouraged to explore further.

Practical implications

This paper holds potential implications that question the consistency of current discourse and research into self-advocacy for autistic individuals in addition to providing effective research, teaching and support strategies based on insight. This paper also highlights some research that challenges assumptions of autistic individuals.

Social implications

This paper challenges assumptions and stigmas associated with autistic individuals and demonstrates the importance of self-advocacy and self-determination. This research transforms the paradigm of autism and education practice that has the potential to improve autistic individuals’ education and ultimately, improve their lives.


This research is important and valuable as there is limited research in this area. The potential of this research is that it can shift the broad perceptions of autism and make improvements in education and autistic individuals lives.



Zuber, W.J. and Webber, C. (2019), "Self-advocacy and self-determination of autistic students: a review of the literature", Advances in Autism, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 107-116.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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